Here comes captain Kieran! Terrific Tierney backed to have Arsenal armband one day by boss Mikel Arteta
- Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney scored the first goal in a 4-0 rout of West Brom
- The Scot initially had a tricky spell settling in after several damaging injuries
- The left-back has been hailed as a future Gunners captain by boss Mikel Arteta
As a former Arsenal captain, Mikel Arteta knows better than most the qualities required for the role and in Kieran Tierney, he believes he has identified the perfect candidate for the future.
Tierney struggled when he first moved to the Gunners from Celtic for £24million in summer 2019, making only 11 appearances before the spring 2020 lockdown as he tried to adapt to a new life while also battling hip and shoulder injuries.
But the 23-year-old has since made huge strides and after a dazzling performance in Saturday’s comfortable victory over West Bromwich Albion, Arteta revealed he expects Tierney to inherit an armband worn by Frank McLintock, Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira, as well as Arteta himself from 2014-16.
Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney scored the first goal in a 4-0 rout of West Bromwich Albion
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang currently has the job, but at 31, he is eight years older than Tierney, leaving the Scot in an excellent position to step in when Aubameyang’s time with Arsenal comes to an end.
‘He can be Arsenal captain as he has the respect and admiration of every member of the staff and every player,’ said Arteta. ‘He does things in a natural way. He is a really shy boy but he represents all of the values we want to instil and are in the DNA of this club.
‘He is so humble. He came to Arsenal and it took him a while to adapt. He had a really bad injury and was away from home but he is a natural leader. You see how he behaves on the pitch and when he talks, he says the right things. He is exactly what we are looking for and I am so happy to have him in the team.’
With snow falling at the Hawthorns and the temperature close to freezing, Tierney caught the eye by abandoning the layers and warming up in shorts and a T-shirt.
There was similar substance to his display, capped by a superb opening goal, when Tierney cut inside from the left flank, moved into the penalty area and fired into the far corner with his weaker right foot.
He has suffered with injuries but was hailed as a future Gunners captain by boss Mikel Arteta
It gave Arsenal the perfect platform for victory, as Bukayo Saka doubled the lead by finishing off a superb move worthy of Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles, and Alexandre Lacazette struck twice in the second half.
Arteta was under significant scrutiny prior to the meeting with Chelsea on Boxing Day but the Gunners took that game 3-1 and if they beat Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on January 14, it will be four Premier League wins in a row.
It is too soon to say that their problems are behind them, but Arteta’s faith in young players is starting to pay off. As well as Tierney, Saka and Emile Smith Rowe were impressive and Pablo Mari was solid at the back.
Tierney said: ‘It’s starting to come together. We are working consistently hard and we haven’t changed anything across the last three games. We want to build wins and points and climb the table, and we’re doing that.’
Arteta (right) saw his side win their third Premier League game in a row after a run of poor form
If the picture is becoming brighter for Arsenal, it remains worryingly bleak for West Brom. There is one eye-catching result of Sam Allardyce’s tenure — the 1-1 draw at Liverpool on December 27.
Other than that, Albion have conceded 12 goals without reply in home matches against Aston Villa, Leeds United and Arsenal. They end the festive period six points from safety.
Allardyce desperately needs reinforcements in defence, midfield and attack, especially with the Albion boss expecting centre forward Karlan Grant to be out of action for at least five weeks with a broken bone in his foot.
But Allardyce’s attempts to improve his squad have already run into problems. There are unlikely to be significant funds available and to make matters more complicated, Brexit has made it tougher to sign players from the European Union.
The United Kingdom’s departure from the EU on December 31 means clubs are no longer able to sign European players under EU rules related to free movement of labour.
These players will now require a governing body endorsement in order to be eligible, with a range of criteria including international caps and strength of the player’s domestic league used to make a decision.
During his time at Sunderland and Crystal Palace, Allardyce was able to make key signings such as Lamine Kone and Luka Milivojevic to help him steer those clubs to safety.
Allardyce said: ‘I’ve found three players already who would have been capable of coming here and they’re not allowed. It’s a shame.
‘I won’t name the players but they would have been a big help. Due to the new situation in terms of the permits they were unable to come to this country so I have to look at that everywhere I can now and say ‘can he qualify?’.
‘We can make one loan signing in this country and two worldwide, but this change related to the Brexit deal makes life difficult for the two worldwide loans we have available to us.’
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